Charter Communications, the No. 2 cable operator in the U.S., narrowly beat Wall Street analysts’ estimates for the third quarter as broadband growth offset ongoing video subscriber losses.
Earnings per share came in at $1.74, nearly a dime better than estimates, with total revenue of $11.45 billion just ahead of the Street.
Internet revenue powered the total sales figure, rising 10%. Charter reported it lost 75,000 residential video subscribers, which was an improvement over the prior quarter but a steeper drop than the third quarter a year ago. It added 380,000 internet customers in the period.
A year ago, Charter completed an investment in mobile networks. It reported adding 276,000 mobile lines in the third quarter, which was better than the 208,000 it connected in the second quarter. The total number of lines is now 794,000 and revenue from mobile was $175 million in the quarter.
Earlier this week, Charter and Fox Corp. reached a carriage deal that ensured several network signals would not be interrupted. The positive resolution was atypical of the general marketplace, which has seen an increase in tensions between programmers and distributors as the traditional TV bundle goes through dramatic changes. During the second-quarter Charter earnings call, CEO Tom Rutledge gave a bleak assessment of the carriage environment, forecasting “continuous fighting” between dealmakers.
Cord cutting and the explosion of streaming video has forced cable operators to redefine themselves as their traditional pay-TV customer bases continue to shrink.
Shares in Charter, which closed Thursday’s trading day at $435.07, rose nearly 6% in pre-market trading due to the earnings beat. They have surged more than 44% in 2019 to date and are approaching their 52-week high of $445.
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